465 – Allison On: Tips from the Top on Drop Coat Grooming

Allison On: Tips from the Top on Drop Coat Grooming

Allison Alexander, founder of Leading Edge Dog Show Academy and President of the Canadian Professional Handlers Association, joins host Laura Reeves to talk about grooming drop coated breeds, from maintenance to polish.

Allison’s years of experience provide enormous insight into the maintenance on coated breeds from a Maltese to a Briard. Along with professional tips on the tools of the trade…. What kind of pin brush, what type of wraps, HOW to wrap and band. We cover it all right here. Read on for just the tip of the iceberg. And click to listen to the entire fabulous conversation.

“Obviously the basics start with line brushing,” Allison said. “And one thing I will say about drop coats, and people might disagree with me, but drop coats more than any other coat type, you can’t have a bad day.

“Even a poodle in full show coat, you can skip a bath. They could get wet in a rainstorm or snowstorm and it’s midnight and you’ve driven for two days to get home and, I’m not recommending it, but you can let them get away with like towel him dry, sleeping it off overnight and starting the next day. You have a long coat, especially as single-coated long coat, and you do not have those options.

“So the commitment is like times 10 to me. There are no days off. So when it comes to line brushing to me to keep a really fully coated drop coat breed in coat, line brushing has to be something that you’re doing every day. You’re going to change those wraps every day. You’re going to change that topknot every day. You’re going to make sure that they look perfect.

“When it comes to line brushing, my kind of general rule of thumb is, the longer the coat the more coat they have, the longer the pin in the pin brush. When it comes to a single-coated drop coat, I’m going to use a brush with a slightly softer pad firmness. The double-coated drop coats, I’m going to use a brush that has a slightly firmer pad that the pins go in.

“We also know that no matter what we’re brushing, but again more important for long coats, never, ever brush the coat dry. You need some kind of brushing spray, whether it’s a brushing spray that’s just cutting down on static, whether it’s one that’s adding some kind of conditioner to the coat or whether it’s a detangling brushing spray. But they cannot be brushed dry. You’ll just keep snapping those ends off.

“When I am line brushing, I like to teach my dog to lay down on their side. Especially a drop coat because obviously, with that longer outer coat hanging down, you’re not going to get underneath. So if you’re drop coated dog is standing up, even if it’s a Skye terrier, even if it’s a Briard, how are you going to hold all of that coat up out of your way. You’re not going to be able to do that. So the first thing you can do is teach your dog to lay down on the table.

“Remember that our grooming tables are fabulous, they have non slip surfaces, but they are not the thing that our dog really wants to lay on. When I’m laying my dogs down to be line brushed, they typically have maybe a yoga mat, a grooming mat or like a thin dog bed, at the very least a nice thick bath towel underneath them. Mine typically have some kind of grooming mat and then a nice thick bath towel underneath them so that they’re comfortable. ‘Cause you’re going to be here for awhile.

“You’re going to start at the very shortest hair like as far down on the belly as you can and then I like to take the sections when I’m line brushing… so line brushing actually means going line by line through the coat… you have to create those lines. So, you’re creating those lines, typically you could use a knitting needle. I like to use a plastic rat tail comb. Some people use a metal rat tail comb, some people get really good at using their fingers.

“I like to go about a finger width between each line ’cause sometimes people are lined brushing but they’re using like 3 inches of code at a time and wondering why they’re not getting the same results so a fingers width. Obviously like on a little dog like a Maltese it probably would be my little finger and probably on a bigger dog like a Skye terrier, a Briard, it would be like a bigger finger.

“You’re going to take a layer coat, you’re going to mist it with whatever your brushing spray is, brush it with your pin brush, check it with your comb. We’re not using our comb to groom the dog because otherwise you’re going to be removing too much coat. We’re using the comb to check that we did get all the way down to the skin from one end of that line that we did (to the other.)

“Typically I’m going to go from the belly to the top line. Then I’m going to do each leg in the same manner. I don’t typically do the legs or the tail or the neck at the same time. I go from the armpit to the loin area all the way up from the belly. Then I’m going to the front leg from the bottom of the foot up. Back leg, under the tail, the tail, then the neck. It’s in sections. An it’s line by line by line.”



433 — Five Tips for Staying Motivated During Uncertainty

Five Tips for Staying Motivated During Uncertainty

The global Coronavirus pandemic has brought with it a plethora of change. Staying motivated to train, groom and condition our dogs has been a challenge.

Event cancellations, isolation, quarantine, toilet paper hoarding and stay at home orders crashed down on all of us in March. And here we are, nearly seven months later. A few events of various types have been held around the country since this summer.

The purebred dog fancy has generally been careful to follow all mandated precautions at these events (More on this next week in my conversation with handler Bill McFadden) in order to encourage more events to resume. A great many more events have continued to be cancelled for any number of reasons.

Exhibitors are frustrated. Exhausted by the ups and downs. It can seem daunting and pointless to maintain our usual routines when there is no identifiable goal. The finish line is uncertain and hazy off in the distance.

My regular listeners know my “penchant for Polyanna” … a tendency to focus on finding what sliver of a silver lining shines through any storm … a lemonade out of lemons mentality that helps keep me grounded.

With that, here are five tips for staying motivated in your training, conditioning and grooming plans.

Win the War on Weariness

We are all tired. Tired of home schooling and masks and no hugs. Exhausted by national politics and worried about money, health, and the future. Weary of the unending unfolding nightmare that 2020 has come to represent to nearly everyone.

One guess as to the best medicine for this type of fatigue and burnout… Yep. Dogs. EVERYONE is either buying or attempting to buy a new dog. We have all seen the registration numbers going up and our inboxes flooded with puppy requests.

So, if John Q Public sees the benefit in acquiring a new best friend, *clearly* we dog people are ahead of the game! We often have *multiple* dog households! We have dogs to snuggle, to listen to our darkest fears. We have dogs to distract us, get us off the couch, away from the fridge and keep our blood flowing.

Celebrate “man’s best friend” and all she represents to you by practicing your stand stay, your send out, your watch me. Whatever your discipline, there are games you can play to keep your dog sharp and your muscle memory intact, while simultaneously beating back the looming grey clouds hanging around our heads. I’ll include links in the blog post to previous podcast episodes with some good doggy conditioning exercises. Listen here and here and here.

Working from home, home schooling and limited social outlets can feel chaotic, confused and disorderly. One of the few things you can absolutely take into your own control is the time you spend with your dog. Whether you choose to carve out an hour a day for training, trimming, trotting or simply tears behind closed doors, you are in charge of that. And our dogs are always up for the attention and the time spent together.

That small measure of being in control of SOME damn thing is a major component of defeating depressed moods and being better able to cope with rest of the daily aggro.

Prevent Pandemic Pounds and Pandemic Puppies

While we’ve all been eating — and possibly drinking — our feelings during the last seven months, our young dogs have had nearly zero socialization opportunities. Our motivation to improve our dogs’ future success can provide the kick in the pants we need to get up off the couch, push back from the dinner table and head for the grooming table.

Even if you have to wear a mask while doing it, walking around the neighborhood is allowed everywhere. Walking or running or biking with your dog will keep both of you fit and ready to handle whatever comes next, including fitting into show clothes …

Innumerable studies have proven conclusively that the more physically active we are, and the more time we spend with our dogs, the healthier we are physically AND mentally. The healthier we are, the safer we are from ALL types of viral infections.

Socialization is tough in these times, but even getting your dog out and walking around the parking lots of the stores that are open allows them to see and hear new sights and sounds. Varying surface texture — from gravel to concrete to grass to dirt to asphalt — is critical for young puppies once they are vaccinated and able to be on the ground. That can be done outdoors in a safe and socially distanced way.

Car rides to open spaces are excellent opportunities for training and socializing to new environments. Check out the podcast on Sniffspot to find spots in your area where you can run or train your dog safely off-lead without fear of germs, for you or your dog, or encountering uncontrolled dogs.

Build the Bond

One of the most valuable results of spending time training your dog, or grooming or conditioning, is building the unshakeable bond of trust that our dogs crave.

Every time we reinforce “watch me” for eye contact, every time we use our quiet hands to calm their excitement, every single time we work through a knot in their coat or pull coat in wire coated breeds or run a clipper or a Dremel, every time we take off on a loose lead walk or jog, we are teaching our dogs.

Every single interaction between us and our dogs is an opportunity for us to teach and mold them…. Or, conversely, for them to learn that our cues are meaningless and it’s easy to blow them off and do their own thing.

I repeat. EVERY interaction with your dog is a training opportunity. Of either them or you. Choose wisely! Dogs respond to affection, to food, to toys, but mostly to trust.

If the dog knows you won’t hurt him or allow him to be hurt, if the dog TRUSTS that if you give a verbal or non-verbal cue it means the same thing every time, if the dog is 1000 percent confident in you as the lead dancer in your performance, whatever event it might be, you will be miles ahead of your competition. Even when your puppy hasn’t had all of the “hands on” socializing and people interaction you would prefer due to the pandemic.

I recently attended the very first west coast dog show since March with my own personal pandemic puppy. Agatha is a Spinone Italiano… The litter was born the day they shut down Louisville. I’ll never forget her birthday… The breed in general and this individual dog tend to be a bit hesitant with strangers.

We have worked at it, but getting enough “hands on” has been a struggle. The only handling class we could make it to, I was teaching. Her co-breeder/co-owner brought her and I worked with her a few minutes. But that was *literally* her only practice before the shows in Washington last month.

PS it was the worst dog show weather known to man. Raining sideways in torrents, wind, blowing tarps flying, gallons of water being dumped off tents inches from her nose, raincoats, rainhats, masks, gloves, barking dogs and weirdness at every single turn, from her perspective.

She wasn’t perfect, she melted on exam. She *leeeeeeeeeeeeaned* on exam. She wasn’t sure what the heck to do with a dog running behind her. But she trusted me. She stood up, shook it off and wagged her tail after every encounter. She moved head and tail up, stacked on the line, considered free stacking before she was just toooooooo distracted. She won. She wasn’t perfect, but she trusted me.

I was soooooo proud of this little dog who had to suck it up in the very worst of conditions for her first actual dog show. Trust, along with all of the things that we COULD do, made the difference.

One thing that I made clear going in. The dog show was five days. If I felt she was becoming overwhelmed or having a bad experience, I would walk away. As it turned out, a crisis at home cut our week short and I wasn’t sad.

I think it’s important to remember the old axiom, always end a dog’s experience with anything on a positive. Don’t push young dogs to do more than they can handle. If you eat an entry fee, it’s a small price to pay for not blowing the dogs brain up and ruining it for the long run.

Find the Fun

Wait for it….. This is, or it’s supposed to be, fun! Whether you are showing your dog, running fast CAT, barn hunt, agility or a field trial, it’s OK to have a good time! Competition is great. It keeps us sharp and striving to succeed and improve. But as soon as you aren’t having a good time, rethink what you’re doing. Because if you hate it, the dog definitely does.

I just had a young woman tell me this exact story about a dog show a few weeks ago. Her dog lost, she felt her dog was a better example of the breed, but her dog moved head and tail down in true Eeyore fashion. She admitted that she was sooooo not interested in being there and that it traveled directly down the leash to her dog. Which caused her to lose and become more frustrated. This vicious cycle can happen to ANY of us.

Remember, our dogs count on US to be the fearless leader. Their knight in shining armor. Their Princess Bride. It’s why it’s so critical to get YOUR head space right before you try and ask the dog for a *performance*…

When you can take away the ribbon part. Focus on your partnership with your dog. Quit worrying about blue or white. Just concentrate on the dog in front of you. On getting inside that dog’s head. On pouring confidence and strength right down the lead and into their bodies. Make sustained eye contact. Communicate on a private level. Quit jacking your jaws with friends and competitors ringside and inside the ring and completely concentrate on your dog. THEN you will be able to find joy. To find power. You may or may not win, but you sure the heck will have fun with YOUR DOG!

Because It’s All About the DOGS

This final point is one I see waaaaaaaaaay too often left behind. Walked past. Ignored. Don’t know what you’re talking about.

In the race for points or rankings or notoriety or whatever one hopes to gain from dog events, folks have a painful tendency to forget the dog entirely. They lose, so they yank the dog around. The dog fidgets, so they yell at the dog. They’re so busy jacking their jaws about the unfairness of professional handlers or politics or mean girls or whatever has them all busted up on the given day, they pay NO attention to the dog… Is it spooked? Doesn’t feel good? Uncertain? Jacked up? Mad? Who knows! Exhibitors of this stripe rarely even look down the leash, never mind feel the vibe up it from the dog.

It’s About the Dogs. Period. End of discussion. You have paid someone for an opinion and received it. If you didn’t like it, step back, like my friend did, and figure out why. If you aren’t willing to do that, you are doing the DOG a giant disservice.

Bad things happen when you are focused on YOU and not on the DOG. It can be a small bad thing, like losing out on a ribbon. Or a very large bad thing, like losing a dog. I can’t say it often enough or loudly enough. The DOGS are why we do this. The DOGS come first. In EVERYTHING. EVERY time. If that is too hard, perhaps you should consider goldfish instead.

So, in the final analysis, our *motivation* is always the DOGS. There will be a next year. Or the year after. There will be another dog event. There might even be another dog. But there will never again be THIS dog. So, find your mojo. Give her the best you have of time, training, grooming, conditioning and effort. Build your bond with your dogs. And, for the love of all that is holy, have FUN!

355 – Scott Sommer on Owner/Professional Handlers Relationship

Scott Sommer on the Owner/Professional Handlers Relationship

Scott Sommer, handler of two different Westminster Kennel Club Best in Show winners is back for the third and final installment of his conversation with host Laura Reeves.

Today we’re talking about owner handlers and professional handlers. Plus, Sommer talks about the most difficult trimming techniques he learned and offers invaluable tips from an experienced veteran about working with scissored coats and other tricks of the trade.

Handlers compete with the best to improve

Discussing the Owner Handled competition, Sommer reflects on the past when direct competition between amateur and professional handlers forced owners to “Step up and compete with handlers, which made them better.”

“Owner Handled allows them to compete against one another. I’m not opposed, but I think it separates the whole dog show world,” Sommer observed. “It takes away from people’s ability to learn. You have to compete with the better (competitor) to make your dog better. It makes a difference.

“The Owner Handlers have to compete with people who can make a dog look like it isn’t. It’s a hard thing to do. I worked for Michael Kemp for 16 years. Even now, I struggle with some things. It takes a long time to learn.”

Still learning after all this time

Sommer said that even after 40 years, his biggest struggle is trimming a dog’s off-side front leg.

“It’s horrible,” Sommer said. “The hardest thing in the world for me to get right was the neck in to shoulder. The best thing you can do is never touch the head and neck until a day after they are bathed. You can trim the body. But if you trim (the head/neck of a Bichon Frise) right after you dry, there’ll be no hair left. It needs at least a day.”

Sommer noted that climate, humidity, and even water quality makes a tremendous difference in coat texture. He advised bathing a Bichon two to three days ahead of the show in order to have enough spring in their coat.

“When I was in dry areas, I’d just spray water and pat the hair down,” Sommer said. “Kaz (Hosaka, legendary poodle handler and protégé of Anne Rogers Clark) taught me that.

“There’s so much to tell people. (Learning all of this) doesn’t just happen overnight.”

178 — Bergit Coady Kabel: “Groomed to Perfection”

A Legend in the Terrier Ring

Bergit Coady Kabel with a West Highland White Terrier in years gone by.

The 2012 Winkie Award for Best Professional Handler, said it best: “A legend in the Terrier ring, Bergit Coady Kabel’s dogs are always groomed to perfection and flawlessly presented. Always polite and professional, she is totally dedicated to her dogs.”

Hard Work and Dedication

Bergit was someone I admired from afar for my entire handling career. I didn’t get to see her often, as our paths rarely crossed in the particular shows we attended. Every time I saw her, I was impressed by her immaculate charges and her unfailing smile.

I talk with a lot of folks for the podcast who have achieved the highest levels of success in purebred dogs. And I consistently hear the same themes. Hard work. Dedication. And an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Bergit is a leading voice in the chorus.

Responsibility Gave Joy

Bergit tells the story in today’s podcast about being 13 years old and excited beyond words to have been taught by her earliest mentor how “to clean teeth, bathe dogs, express anal glands, and clean ears. … and the happiest kid you could have found.”

Let that sink in for a minute. Here is a kid who was *thrilled* to do anal glands because “Finally I knew a few things to do with dogs.”

Many successful handlers apprenticed for Bergit over the years. “A few assistants that wanted to do this by the clock, needless to say, did not work out,” she noted.

After a recent illness, Bergit is recovered and ready to take on judging with that same focus and intensity.

Focusing on Judging

“After 50 successful years of handling, I feel I can try to give back a little to a sport that has given me so much,” Bergit said. “I know judging will present different challenges and I will educate myself every step of the way. Will I like it better than handling? Never. I loved every minute of my handling career.

“…my son Ryan said to me. He is fully aware of my love for handling. He said, ‘You know, you are very lucky that you can go into judging. There’s a whole big world and big dog family. So you can see your friends again.’ He does mortgages and he said, ‘When I’m done there is no mortgage family waiting for me.’”

Bergit’s concrete advice on reaching the pinnacle of perfection in trimming dogs is invaluable. And we start a new feature on the show “All Time Favorites Best in Show Lineup.” Listen now to hear which dogs she would have in that ring and who would win!

Read Full Transcript

Laura: Welcome to pure dog talk, I’m your host, Laura Reeves, and I am joined by a member of our sport who I have long had mad respect for and I think she just brings such incredible knowledge to the game of purebred dogs. So I would like to welcome Bergit Coady Kabel to our conversation because I think you guys are going to really, really enjoy this one. So thank you. Bergit. How are you today?

Bergit: Really good, thank you. Very good. Excellent.

Laura: So we have a thing here on pure dog talk that we ask our guests to give us the 411, right? The who, what, when, where, why, how, how did you get started? How did you get involved in dogs? You’ve been at this for a lifetime now, right?

Bergit: Yes, definitely. Yes. I will have to tell you how it all started. When I was five years old, my family moved from southern Germany to downtown Hamburg. Soon after that, my earliest recollection is this, and a bit old neighbor girl was able to walk a wire Fox terrier for friends. One day she let me hold the leash. I was so thrilled and could not wait to tell my mom. You would have thought I won a box of toys. I have always been crazy about dogs. Maybe got the gene from my grandmother. She loved animals. A few blocks away from where we lived in Hamburg was a grooming shop owned and operated by Mr and Mrs Buchhaltz, who were excellent dog people and also show people. They owned a Mini and a Toy Poodle, an Irish Terrier and a Scottish Terrier. For a long time I was forever trying to figure out how I could get to know them. Remember I was only a young kid then, and the dog world was not like it is today. My break came when the Buchhaltz’s daughter, who was in the same class as my younger brother, came into the classroom and asked for her parents. They were looking for a babysitter for the two year old sister. Bingo. I was it.

Bergit: I babysat… and every minute, after my job was done, I was spending time with the dogs. I was a dog walker at first and I kept telling the Buchhaltz to please teach me grooming. I was fascinated by what all the employees could create. So after awhile Mr Buchhaltz decided he had to do something with me since I was always around. The first things he taught me was — this is no kidding — to clean teeth. bathe dogs, express anal glands and clean ears.

Laura: And you were how old Bergit?

Bergit: I was 13 at the time. And the happiest kid you could have found. Finally I knew a few things to do with dogs. At that point they also started to take me to some dog shows, you know, later on in life, much later on in life. I kept thinking back to this and I was thinking maybe Mr Buchhaltz thought, you know, if I let her do all of these things…we’ll get rid of her! But it didn’t happen. By the time I left school, I agreed to a three year apprenticeship with the Buchhaltz. My parents were devastated. My mother’s dream was for me to be a super secretary like she was, but sitting still has never been easy for me. So at this point, the Buchhaltz did not really need a fourth girl.. the three they had were excellent. So they asked if I would like to go to England to work in a well known Scottish Terrier Kennel “Riander” for Mrs Elizabeth Meyer. They took me with them to Crufts and we were introduced and I looked at all the Scotties like many people would do and said, how do you know which one is which one? So this was the basic beginning to my fabulous life into dogs. I spent two years in the UK and then one year at the Buchhaltz grooming shop. They agreed to the second year if I agreed to no time or days off for that. year. That was fine. I didn’t care.

Bergit: So basically my most important mentors besides the Buchhaltz was Mrs Meyer of Riander fame. To this day, I refer to something I was taught by her daily and we don’t even own our kennel anymore. There are two most important elements that I live by. Mrs Meyer said, number one, you have to be able to take care of yourself first before you can take care of someone else or something else. Second, when taking care of dogs, you yourself have to know what goes into a dog and what comes out of a dog, so you have to look at each one every day. From her I learned how to put down a Scottish terrier, and once a month she insisted to drive me to a well known Westie breeder who taught me how to trim Westies I would spend all day at her place. Now comes the question of how did you come to the United States? Well, spending two years at the Riander Kennel in England, I met many American Scottish Terrier breeders that came to visit the Kennel. One day, Betty Malinka of Sandoone Scottish Terriers, visited and asked if I would like to come for one year to work for her in Gary, Indiana. I agreed. End of history. This year, March 12, was my 50th anniversary of arriving at Chicago O’hare.
Laura: That is pretty amazing. Bergit. I’m sorry. That kind of made me a little choked up for a minute.
Bergit: Yeah. Yeah. That’s amazing. Working for Betty was fun. She took me to a lot of shows and also I met a lot of people and that’s how I met Clay Cody.

Laura: Yes.

Bergit: We started with our limited experience but taught ourselves a lot by watching top handlers at the time. Yes, we were fortunate to have some great dog people apprentice under us… and we are still very proud of them. Again, trimming you can teach, conditioning as well, but you have to have a certain feeling for dogs. If you had assistants that wanted to do this by the clock, needless to say, that did not work out.

Laura: No,

Bergit: We always started from scratch. If a dog needed a new coat, it was stripped down… in 10 to 12 weeks later you started to show it. It takes that long on any strip breed to get the coat into show length.

Laura: Yeah.

Bergit: In the meantime, you will take care of furnishings and everything else on the dog, exercise and fresh air are of great importance… and having had a super kennel with 58 runs in southern California for 40 years was more than ideal. We also had a set of runs where you could get a profile view of the dog from the dog kitchen, and that was enlightening and very useful. All of the above we brought to the attention of all of our assistants. Your question about habits to condition and groom a dog, is difficult to answer. A dog has to feel you like him. That’s the start of everything. Then you start by putting him on the table every day, often just for a little while because once a dog is stripped, you have four to six weeks before you do what we call a defuzz, which is the same as a cleanup, but furnishings need to be washed every two to three days and blow dried.

Bergit: The dog gets used to your hands and where you put them. Be consistent in making the same movements. Always be peaceful. Don’t do any of this if you need to rush. By the time you need to put a final show trim on the dog, he should be able to stand on the table perfectly relaxed and display confidence. Anyone with love for dogs can do this — Owner-Handlers or Handlers. The secret ingredient, as you call it, to a perfectly trimmed dog, is looking at it as many times as it takes on the ground, after you finished trimming it in front of a mirror, of course on the table. Then on the ground, someone has to walk the dog for you so that you can see him in profile as well as up and down. Whatever you need to correct… then you correct it, but you can never take a dog off the table even though it looks perfect and think that that’s how it’s going to look. Because once the dog shakes or moves differently, you can have a completely different picture.

Bergit: So this is of course more work and a lot of people’s excuse is they don’t have somebody that can walk the dog, BUT you can always, if you get to the dog show early, find somebody that would do it for you, and even if they don’t walk it correctly or perfectly like you would, you can still see certain things. The other thing that a lot of people don’t do is to take a dog for a regular walk. I don’t mean at a dog show. I mean just down the street to look and hear and see strange things. Always talk to your dog and pet him in between. You will bond nicely. You have to have good work ethics, a lot of self discipline and most of all a passion for this whole dog show scene in order to make it work.

Laura: I would agree with that.

Bergit: After all. Then you asked me about judging.

Laura: YES. This is a new journey that you’re taking on, right? Just getting started, yes?

Bergit: Right, after 50 successful years of handling, I feel I can try to give back a little to a sport that has given me so much. I know judging will present different challenges and I will educate myself every step of the way. Will I like it better than handling? Never. I loved every minute of my handling career. To end this interview, I would love to tell you what my son Ryan said to me. He is fully aware of my love for handling. He said, you know, you are very lucky that you can go into judging. There is a whole big world and big dog family. Most of all, you know each other. So you can see your friends again. He does mortgages and he said when I’m done, there is no mortgage family waiting for me.

Laura: I love that. It’s totally the truth, Bergit.

Bergit: It’s totally the truth.

Laura: You know, I just got done interviewing Lorraine Boutwell for example, and she talks a lot about this and a lot of the people I talk to about this, they started in dogs either as breeders or as breeders and then handlers or what have you… and continued judging and I think so much of it is because this is your family. Right?

Bergit: Right. Right. And I mean, you have no idea. I mean when I got sick, I mean I still have all the cards and all the stuff and I mean it was incredible. You know, I was just truly overjoyed and now everybody that sees me at a dog you know, goes crazy and is happy for me

Laura: like I did.

Bergit: You know, I’ve always tried to help everybody. Because people tend to dislike you when you win a lot, but you know, that’s never affected me. You know, I’ve always given credit to where credit is due and you know, I think people remember that. You know.

Bergit: I think so too. So two more things. Your best advice… especially for the people that are getting started. We have lots of people who listen to this podcast who are less than five years, for example, with purebred dogs. What is your best advice for these folks when they’re getting started? Showing their dog, grooming their dog, whatever it is.

Bergit: Definitely to get the best rapport going with your dog. That means you take the dog for a walk just as a pet. You pet it, you talk to it. You make sure it learns to stand on the table perfectly still so that you can groom it. Whatever dog it is… in order to groom it you can’t be fighting with it. That you can’t be every time making excuses, for it or all these things. But if a dog knows that you want this from him, you give him so much. To my mind, the dog can also give something back to you and they’ll figure it out. I mean it doesn’t matter what we dealt with many different bleed, you know, so you have to be patient and then when you need help you try and get helpful my hand low or if you watch somebody at a dog show that you think could give you ideas, you approach that person at the end of the day or when there’s a break, obviously not while they’re showing a dog, you know, most people will help you and that’s how you really keep going. And if you run into somebody that won’t help you, don’t be discouraged and go to the next person that you think could do it for you.

Laura: Yeah, and I think that that’s so true. And one of the things that has kept me going, I mean every time I handle a new breed… I go ask someone. That’s just a thing I do and I think that if you just are willing to ask, people are always willing to help, somebody will help you.

Bergit: Yeah. I mean look at it. A few years ago somebody offered us a Komondor. I had finished two Wheatens for them in 1987. They said to me, do you want to show a Komondor? And I said yes. I said, I don’t know much about them, most people don’t, but I said Bill McFadden knows and I’ve seen him show one. And I said I will talk to him and I will get all the information and I will do everything he tells me. So I got it finished. And of course you have to be friends with people in this breed because there’s so few of them that you have to know when there will be a major, you know. And we got it done. But it was really interesting, you know, I mean it was great to do it differently like that.

Laura: I did a Briard, I mean completely outside my comfort zone. And it was great fun, I really enjoyed it because you get that chance, right, to learn something new.

Bergit: Yeah. Yeah. And the same with the Black Russian. I got a Black Russian finished… also with the help. This is when the kind of first started, you know, also with the help of key people and you know, I’ve never forgotten the people that have helped me, you know, and they get a Christmas card every year. I mean I’m a great Christmas card writer. I’m sorry. I like to do that. You have to do these things, you know.

Laura: Yes, absolutely. Okay, so then listeners, you guys are gonna love this. We’re going to add this as a new feature for all of the interviews that we do with some of our great legends of the sport and Bergit gets to be our test case. So Bergit? Now you have 50 years in the sport in the United States. So I’m asking you in your mind, and this is a game we play as handlers, right? Like, I’ve always done this. So, in your mind, the greatest best in show lineup of all time… of dogs that you have personally seen. Ready, Go!

Bergit: I would say for the Hound Group – Pepsi, the Afghan Hound. For the herding group… Manhattan, the German shepherd. Non-Sporting would definitely be London, Standard Poodle, black Standard Poodle. Terrier… Coco the Norfolk.

Laura: Wow. That says a lot coming from you. Wow!

Bergit: Yup. Yup. Working… and that would probably win my best in show right there, Matisse, the Portuguese water dog.

Laura: Okay…Wow.

Bergit: Toy…John Oultan’s Papillon, Kirby,

Laura: Beautiful.

Bergit: Sporting… the Black Cocker of Michael Pitts — Beckham.

Laura: Those are some beautiful, beautiful choices and I think since I saw this in somebody else’s social media and I said, it tells so much about what you value as a judge, as a handler or what have you, what you see in that best in show lineup. I just think it is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Plus it makes us think about cool little dogs. Awesome. Alright, well Bergit, thank you so much for your time. It was wonderful to see you at the dog show a few weeks ago. I am thrilled to see you back and I wish you the very, very best in your judging career. You will be outstanding.

Bergit: Thank you so much. I appreciate that. Thank you. Take care. Okay..bye-bye.

117 – Desi Murphy: AKC Judge, Breeder Showcase and Grooming Tip of the Week with Allison Foley

Desi Murphy

AKC Judge Desi Murphy – 3rd Generation in Dogs

Desi Murphy was born into the sport of dogs.  His grandfather managed kennels in Scotland, his father managed a whippet and greyhound kennel in the U.S.

While surrounded in his youth with 125 sighthounds, Desi’s found a love of terriers, bully breeds and Chows.

Bullies are different…

Desi, now a legend in the sport, is licensed to judge the sporting, terrier, and toy groups.

Santa Barbara Breeder Showcase

Desi Murphy  is co-chair for Breeder Showcase at Santa Barbara Kennel Club, and event in it’s ninth year.

Now an in-demand event, the Breeder Showcase is extremely competitive.  Dogs are often brought out of retirement for the competition or young dogs held out just for their debut.


A perk for the exhibitors is dinner and wine at the event.

Desmond Murphy – The AKC Judge

Laura Reeves asks Desi what he first looks for in the breed ring.

Evaluate breeding stock…What was the dog bred to do?

For example, the three setters work in different terrains, so their structure must meet their function.  In bicycles, you have a mountain bike, road bike and beach cruiser – each are built to work in different terrains.

Some breeds are getting carried away, and showiest is not always the best.  Basset Hounds in Mexico, for example, are getting too big.  Remember, if a Basset Hound meets a fence on the trail, the hunter has to pick him up and place him on the other side of the fence.  You can’t lift an 80 lb basset.

Condition is second…

Dogs need to be fit and in good health and condition.

Movement is a test of structure

The structure standing should be seen and confirmed in a dog moving.

Advice to Exhibitors

Have the best dog.  Often exhibitors ask what they can do to win with a dog… have the best dog.  Ask other breeders and professionals to evaluate your dog against the breed standard.  Know your standard.

Future of the Dog Sport?

As an international judge, Desi see younger exhibitors, and younger breeders in other countries than the U.S.

Russia is strong in most breeds, and Korea and China are close behind

Some handlers started showing at eight years of age, and have bred multiple litters by the time they are 21.  We need youth willing to be breeders.

AKC Biography of Desmond Murphy

Desmond Murphy, of Monroe, New York, is a third-generation dog man¿his grandfather, father, and two uncles all having been handlers. Born in Scotland, he was reared among Greyhounds, Whippets, and terriers at his family’s Mardormere Kennels in upstate New York.

He began handling in 1958, working under his uncle John Murphy, a distinguished handler and judge. Mr. Murphy, known as Desi, points to his handling of seven different Best in Show Chow Chows as his proudest achievement.

Mr. Murphy has been an AKC judge since 1976 and is approved to judge 93 breeds. He last judged at the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship in 2003.

Mr. Murphy is a member of the Tuxedo Park Kennel Club, the Santa Barbara Kennel Club, and the Saw Mill River Kennel Club, and is treasurer of the Non-Sporting Group Club of the Garden State. He considers “learning the value of preserving breed type” to be the most valuable lesson he has learned in dogs.


Allison Foley’s Tip of the Week:

How to Use Bath Products Properly

Shampoos and Conditioners need to be used properly to achieve results.  The best scissors, training and handling can’t compensate for poor cleanliness or coat condition.

Listen to Episode # 107 How To Properly Bathe Your Dog for more on how to bathe properly.

  1. Use your shampoo according to the directions. It’s formulated for a reason so measure it out!
  2. Leave the product on the dog long enough to work. 5 minutes for shampoo and 7-10 minutes for color or deep conditioner.

Allison’s Conditioner Trick

Conditioners don’t mix well with water.  Use a cheap immersion blender to mix thoroughly and smooth out all the globs.

More tips and courses are available at Leading Edge Dog Show Academy.

91 – Dog Show Grooming, Poodle University, Online Handling and Allison Foley

Dog Show Grooming, Poodle University, and Handling All Online with Allison Foley

Allison Foley has started Leading Edge Dog Show Academy to mentor exhibitors online for dog show grooming, junior handling, and handling for adults.

A top Canadian handler known for her Best in Show Poodles, Allison has teamed up with her film student son to create a professional quality video series “on-demand”.

Poodle University

Poodle University is the first dog show grooming series with 8 courses:

  • Knot Your Average Top Knot
  • All Sprayed Up
  • Ultimate Guide to Poodle Top Knots
  • Poodle Puppy Trim
  • Continental Trim
  • English Saddle Trim
  • Poodle Prep
  • Poodle Handling

Junior Handling

A Junior Handler herself, Allison holds a near and dear place for training juniors, so she created Junior Handling 101.

Dog Show Handling for Adults

The beginner handling course is now live, with more to come.

Just Started, Much More Dog Show Grooming to Come…

But What About … (insert breed)???

YES!  Cocker Spaniel Grooming and Kerry Blue Terrier and much more breed specific dog show grooming is on it’s way.

Pure Dog Talk will announce new releases before they are live and give you first access.

Leading Edge Dog Show Academy

Pure Dog Talk listeners receive a 15% discount at checkout for a limited time.

Allison Foley showed her first Poodle in Junior handling when she was 7 years old. Fast forward from there to her winning of more than 550 All-breed “Best in Shows” on various breeds, but Poodles are her passion!

Having been a professional dog handler since 1987, Allison not only brings a wealth of knowledge to her lessons but also her whimsical view on life.

Allison is the President of the Canadian Professional Dog Handlers Association (CPHA), the Vice President of the Canadian Kennel Club Foundation, the Junior Handling Representative for the Canadian Kennel Club (CKC) in Nova Scotia. She also writes for several dog magazines, worldwide.

More tips and courses are available at Leading Edge Dog Show Academy.